January was a very important month for teams at the top and bottom of the table, while the sides in the middle jostled for position ahead of an intense fight for European football.
There were some standout performances throughout January with Liverpool’s SAS combination being reunited while Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke both found form.
Here’s our team of the month.
GK – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Lloris has been one of Tottenham’s most consistent players this season. He featured in the top five for saves, punches and high claims last month, showing great command of his penalty area.
RB – Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Azpilicueta has been tipped for a new contract this morning after his performances for the Blues. Only one defensive player made more successful tackles than the Spaniard last month.
CB – Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)
Skrtel is never going to be the most refined of defenders but he’s been a main stay in a Liverpool back four, which has rotated several times this season. He made 13 more effective clearances than any other defender in January.
CB – Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)
There will be plenty of sides who wish they had the calmness, leadership and experience of the big German in their team. He offers Arsenal a safe and reliable option in their back four and his size makes him difficult to outmuscle.
LB – Erik Pieters (Stoke City)
Pieters was one of the most difficult full backs to get the better of last month. He made more successful tackles than any other defender and only two defensive stars won more individual duels against opposition players.
RM – Adam Johnson (Sunderland)
Johnson has really turned around his form in recent times, bagging five goals in January to become one of Sunderland’s most important players. He seems to thrive on that role of cutting in from the right hand side.
CM – Claudio Yacob (West Brom)
Yacob was more effective than any other player when it came to breaking up the opposition play last month. He’s the sort of gritty, determined midfielder any side needs to protect the defence.
CM – Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Wilshere led the way with assists in January which means the Gunners will really be missing him as he recovers from an ankle problem. He thrives in the centre or just behind the main striker.
LM – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Cazorla made more passes than any midfielder last month and he seems comfortable drifting in from the left hand side. He has a great relationship with the overlapping left-back.
ST – Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
Benteke had a very good January with three goals, six shots on target, more passes than any other striker and more flick ons than any other forward.
ST – Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Suarez was the joint higher scorer last month in terms of strikers, on four with teammate Daniel Sturridge. He’s a constant threat and would make any top side around the world when he’s in form.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald